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Draft Mental Health Bill published: our response

27 June 2022

VoiceAbility welcomes the publication of the draft Bill to reform the outdated Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA).

Mental Health Act lead Stephen Hinchley said: This is an important milestone in changing the experiences of the tens of thousands of people subject to the Act each year.”

In particular, we welcome the extension of the right to an independent mental health advocate to all mental health in-patients on an opt-out basis. This means people will automatically get support from an independent advocate when they are admitted to hospital in England. This was widely supported in the government’s public consultation last year, and we’re pleased to see it being taken forward.

Stephen Hinchley, Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer

Following the publication of the draft Bill, it will now undergo pre-legislative scrutiny by parliamentarians, where there will be an opportunity to go through the Bill line by line and suggest improvements.

VoiceAbility will be calling for:

  • A commitment from government to bring forward a final Bill as soon as possible after Parliament completes its pre-legislative scrutiny so that the urgently needed reforms are on the statute book well before the next General Election

  • Cross-party support to fully implement the legislation with the resources needed to deliver all the Bill’s measures aimed at increasing the choice and autonomy of those subject to the Act

  • A start date in legislation for the measures to improve access to independent mental health advocacy including extension to voluntary/​informal patients, opt-out and culturally-appropriate advocacy

We look forward to working with parliamentarians and others on detailed scrutiny of the Bill.